China Pushes 'Hush Money' on Grieving Quake Parents

Pressured to stop questioning school toll
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2008 3:41 AM CDT
Parents who lost their children burn papers to mourn their loved ones at the collapsed Wufu primary school in Wufu , southwest China's Sichuan province, Friday, June 20, 2008.    (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Officials in China's Sichuan province are buying the silence of parents who lost children in May's devastating earthquake, the New York Times reports. Grieving parents are being pressured to sign agreements accepting $9,000 in compensation if they stop asking questions about why so many schools collapsed. They are told they will get nothing if they refuse to sign.

Some 7,000 classrooms collapsed in the quake, often while buildings around them remained standing. Police have clamped down on angry parents calling for an investigation. "Most of the parents in our school have signed" the agreement, said a woman who lost her 8-year-old son. “We can’t do anything about it. We’re helpless.”